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Meritage off Opentable in July

Got the email this morning. Think this is the start of a trend?

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Meritage
410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

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  1. Interesting. I can't speak to the economics behind the decision - I know absolutely nothing about making money as a restaurateur. As a diner, though, opentable is directly responsible for a large majority of my reservation bookings. The opentable iPhone app has changed the way I decide where to have dinner.

    I'm guessing that Meritage will be just fine. Elite restaurants probably don't really need opentable. Look at 112 - packed every night. But at the same time, there are plenty of elite restaurants on opentable, and if 112 was on opentable I'd be there WAY more often.

    So as a diner, I hope it's not a trend.

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    Meritage
    410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

    12 Replies
    1. re: keithinmpls

      I hope it's not a trend.

      The main downside of Opentable is that the restaurant has to pay for each reservation made on Opentable. I'm not sure of the amount - a dollar, perhaps? However, in exchange for that fee, they get advertising. I use Opentable all the time, to remind myself of what restaurants are out there and to see what's available at any given time. In fact, often when I want to go out and I'm not sure where to go, I'll use Opentable to browse what's available, and decide from that list. I think that's a powerful incentive for any restaurant to be on Opentable.

      I doubt that there are a whole lot of restaurants which are packed from the moment they open the doors till they close them, and anyone else is missing out by not being on Opentable.

      Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Opentable other than as a user.

      1. re: nsxtasy

        OpenTable is a truly awful deal for the restaurants. Most use it because they think they can't afford not to, but truly, once I read about how Open Table charges restaurants, I stopped using it-- I will use it to find out what's available, then call the resto to make the reservation....

        http://incanto.biz/2010/10/22/is-open...
        http://www.citypages.com/2011-05-04/r...

        1. re: mtullius

          Most restaurants locally fall into a category that costs between $1-$7 per booking. Remember goodfella's? Opentable is the mob. Computer's down? F.U pay me. Lost the reservation? F.U. pay me. You wan't to list that you are closed on sundays because Open table is dissolving your bottom line revenue? F.U pay me. Until there is something different, they will continue to be a necessary evil...

          1. re: mitch cumstein

            Thanks for sharing. I had no idea. I'll definitely start phoning in my reservations from now.

            1. re: DukeFan

              Not me. Opentable makes my life easier as a diner and they deserve to be compensated for that service. And they give you incentive - I have $100+ waiting to be redeemed in credit because I make spontaneous rezzies on my opentable app while en route to any given resto.

              1. re: keithinmpls

                "they deserve to be compensated for that service."

                Sure. But the odd thing about their business model is that it's not YOU, the one whose life is being made easier, who pays for the service. It's the restaurant. For you, it's "free," which in this case means someone else is paying for it.

                Your convenience may lead to you having fewer and fewer good, local options for eating out, since OpenTable's extortionate fees may drive the restos out of business. Then you can have the convenience of choosing between Applebee's, TGI Friday's, and whatever other corporate behemoths survive. Yippee!

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                Applebee's Restaurant
                2201 Coulee Rd, Hudson, WI 54016

                1. re: mtullius

                  If the cost of the Open Table service isn't built into their business model then they aren't going to be around long anyway. Fact is that all things costing need to be charged for. If the Restaurant isn't charging for the Open Table service in some way they are going to be a memory. People in Minnesota need to realize that great food and service cost money. Yes I'm calling some people cheap....

                  1. re: mtullius

                    OpenTable brings more of MY money through the door of restaurants that participate. I have nothing against restaurants that decide not participating will improve their profitability, but I can definitely say that I will be spending far less on dinner and drinks there.

                    1. re: keithinmpls

                      I don't fault anyone strongly for using OpenTable, especially if it can be a win-win situation for them and the restaurant. My opinion is that, more often than not, it's not a win-win, and it's things like that (as well as credit card fees) that chip away at restauranteurs' ability to thrive long-term (if not just survive).

                      What it comes down to for me is that I'm one of the dying breed that actually prefers talking to someone. I like the personal approach of picking up the phone and making the reservation directly. For Meritage, it might even lead to "any hints on seasonal specials coming next week?" and give me a few extra days to ruminate on visions of ramps, asparagus, or whatever in-season items they might mention.

                      I guess I'm pollyanna or old fashioned or whatever, but it never bothers me when I see signs of "conveniences" like OpenTable, Groupon, etc. losing steam and/or dying off. I hate using OpenTable.

                      My utopia is filled with great chefs with smallish restaurants that thrive on personal service and the simplicity of sharing great food with patrons.

                        1. re: MSPD

                          Well said MSPD! I am with you on this one.

              2. re: mtullius

                After reading the City Pages article above, I've taken to checking the general availability on Open Table and then going to the restaurant's website and making my reservation there. The fee is much cheaper for the restaurant that way. (According to CP, the fee for that is $0.25.)

                Of course, one of my problems with OpenTable is that they often don't have true availability listings. I often find I can find tables at times that OpenTable lists as unavailable by calling.

          2. OpenTable is convenient, but I wouldn't pay $2+ for the convenience if given the choice, and since it's built into the cost of doing business, I'm happy to see local restaurants moving away from it...

            ...As long as said restaurants do not eschew OpenTable in favor of the "wait two hours for a table at our restaurant" trend. I would gladly pay $2+ to skip that.

            1. I do all my reservations on my phone. I hope this does not spread to other Restaurants. I won't be waiting for someone to answer and make my reservation. There are to many great restaurants to choose from that are using open table. The best thing about Open Table is seeing when a table is available. If I was charged $3 for a reservation I would still think it was a deal. I wonder what the cost is of a person answering the phone and ignoring people that walk in costs.

              2 Replies
              1. re: ibew292

                The cost is clearly less, or Meritage wouldn't have done away with OpenTable. I wonder if they are still going to have an online reservation system. Incanto's system has updated availability, and every feature OpenTable provides.

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                Meritage
                410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

                1. re: kevin47

                  I like Open Table, but in answer to your question - yes, Meritage will still have an online reservation program and a rewards program. http://www.meritage-stpaul.com/reserv...

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                  Meritage
                  410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

              2. Thanks for this heads up. I use Opentable and love it for all the reasons everyone already posted and I often use it to check an address, phone number or hours. I had not realized the high cost for each reservation and will have to think about it in the future.

                This does lead me to a huge restaurant website pet peeve: Do not bury your hours and phone numbers on your websites. It should be on the home page, not 10 clicks away....or I will quickly look elsewhere.

                2 Replies
                1. re: rockyd

                  >> This does lead me to a huge restaurant website pet peeve: Do not bury your hours and phone numbers on your websites. It should be on the home page, not 10 clicks away....or I will quickly look elsewhere.

                  Absolutely! One more item of information along with hours and phone number: your street address would be mighty helpful!

                  1. re: nsxtasy

                    I totally agree. I can't understand why I have to dig around on resto sites to find a phone #!

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